When the Brandt Commission published its report in 1980 most of the world’s population lived in rural areas, nowhere more so than in Africa. With 3 out of 6 billion people now living in cities and towns, the world is primarily urban. By 2030, Africa will also follow this urbanization trend, and cease to be a rural continent. NEPAD analysts estimate that by 2015 a staggering 345 million people in Africa will live in extreme poverty - US$1 a day or less - up from the 100 million when the Millennium Development Goals were first set. If present trends continue, Africa will be the only continent where the problems of poverty, urban as well as rural, will continue to worsen in the next twenty years. If anything, poverty will continue to concentrate in cities, especially if national and local governments do not address the problems of urbanisation and of the urban poor. Africa is on the move and the rapid urbanisation of the continent has to be recognised both for its potential problems and its genuine possibilities. Already, and in spite of all the difficulties, urban areas in Africa can be credited with producing 60 percent of the GDP. If managed properly, African cities and towns could provide the critical link between the development of rural areas and the larger global economy. Therefore, this paper argues that, this time around, a Commission for Africa must recognise the problems caused by rapid urbanisation; not to do so would be to ignore a crisis in the making. And an agenda for action for a prosperous Africa has to be based on the settlement pattern realities on the continent- the spatial dimension.
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